. The state of the nation according to God



How does one survive in this dear country of ours? This last week was known for turmoil. We all felt the tremor passing through South Africa when our president reshuffled key positions, one being, President Zuma getting rid of Gordon and his deputy Jonas, which left the treasury up for grabs. Then of course the downgrade of S&P (Standards & Poor) of our economy which sent our rand diving. When you add this to the crime spree, farm murders, disregard of law by our wider community, family violence, murders, rapes, corruption in and outside government, it makes for a bleak picture doesn’t it?

What is the answer? Well many answers are put on the table. Most want to remove Zuma. Some want to change the laws, some take the law into their own hands. Others believe that we will solve the problem by joining a march, signing petitions and boycotts. What if we refuse to pay taxes, that will sort things out right? Angus Buchan believes that we simply need to get a million people together to pray, and our problems will be over. Will it?

Let me quote uncle Angus. We are tired of people taking the law into their own hands.  We are going to call upon The Lord to bring justice, peace and hope to our beloved South Africa. “If my people who are called by My name” – that is you and I, so I want to ask you to pray for us.” Then he says: “Cancel every other meeting and make sure you are there. I really believe this is the last chance that we will have in South Africa to bring normality back to this beloved nation.

The question is this. Is this really our last chance, will we bring back normality? If normality does come back are we going to take credit as “we are tired”, “we are going to call on the Lord”, and “we will bring back normality”, if only we can get 1 million people together.

Just last year somebody posted a prayer on Facebook for South Africa, and all you needed to do is to ‘like’ the post, type ‘amen’ at the bottom, and send it to 20 people who must do the same in 20 minutes, and siedaar our problems are over. It did not work.

There is a prophetic movement of some of South Africa’s greatest prophets according to them, who prophesied that President Zuma would not last the year 2016. They failed.

Church family, now don’t judge where I am going yet. I want us as a church to be clear thinking, and to be Biblically driven, and to realise that we are not the center of mankind, or God’s answer for mankind. Fellow Christians in Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, China, Russia, are also important by the way. There are bigger issues at stake.

A few years ago, there was a movement around the world called the “Transformation movement”. The aim of the movement that started in the year 2000 was to get believers of all denominations together in our stadiums to pray, and all problems will be solved. And so “Transformation Africa” and “Transformation South Africa” were born. This movement started on the back of a video released in South America where they claimed: “These prayers have the power to transform our world and to fill the nations with the glory of God.” So, in 2000 this flowed over to South Africa, stadiums were filled, and yet our nation was not transformed. So, like any other movement it eventually died.

This leaves many Christians disheartened. Why did God not heal the land, because His people humbled themselves and prayed? That is the very part of a verse uncle Angus quotes for now. Does prayer still have power, we ask? Gathering with a million people is WOW, but what about when I get home. I get discouraged with my local church because it is not WOW, and my pastor does not make these bold claims. Have we lost touch? Are we still really Christian? Does God hear, does God care and is God even able?

Just think, if a million people came together, and the land is not restored, what an impact it is going to have on the faith of many. What if farmers are still murdered, what if there is still corruption, what if chaos prevails?

So, let’s try and make some sense out of some of this, and find some answers for my role in South Africa and the world I am living in.

We are all part of history, and we are all part of HISstory. One of the problems is how the Old Testament is used and abused in these political and national scenarios. Let’s look at the first verse.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Do you notice how people with prayers agendas water this verse down? It has become “If my people will humble themselves and pray ……. I will heal their land.”

Firstly, that is an oversimplification of the verse, and secondly, we are not Israel, serving under a theocracy where God has made land promises to Israel. Thirdly, South Africa is not a Christian nation, and the fact that our President can quote the name Jesus in his political speeches, does not make him Christian or us a Christian Nation. God, owes South Africa nothing, but oh my friend, we owe God so much. A few years ago, churches were singing God Bless Africa. Our own national anthem says: “God bless Africa, (Why must God bless Africa, we must bless God) may her glory (our glory, eish! I thought we are created for His glory) be lifted high, hear our petitions, God bless us, your children (since when?), God, we ask you to protect our nation, intervene and end all conflicts (while we fight, hate, rape, rob and murder one another), protect it, protect our nation, our nation.” Oh, it is all about us!! WE have become BIG and God has become SMALL. It is now the sovereignty of man, rather than the sovereignty of God.

It is concerning that those who love to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 do not quote the most critical part. This verse does not call for prayer meetings, it does not call for a million together, it does not call for national days of prayer, and it does not call for people of all faiths to join hands. It calls for all individuals under the Old Covenant to do a few things:

  1. They needed to humble themselves: {kaw-nah'} - to be humble, be humbled, be subdued, be brought down, be low, be under, be brought into subjection” – In Hebrew there are two main verb forms. The one is the Perfect mood, and the other one is the imperfect mood. The perfect describes a completed action, and the Imperfect a progressive action. {kaw-nah'} is in the imperfect mood. So, the answer is not here to humble ourselves for a day, and to align humility with prayer. They are called to a humbled lifestyle, where they bring themselves under subjection to God.
  2. They needed to pray: Guess what mood that is in? Imperfect. So, it is not a national call to prayer for one day and God would act on Israel’s behalf. They needed to pray continuously.
  3. They needed to seek God’s face. They were called to a lifestyle of daily (baqash) finding God in all their circumstances.
  4. They needed to turn from their wicked ways. It is very much the same as the word Repentance in the new testament, which means Israel had to change their ways. Their ways were the problem. The problem was not the absence of prayer, but their wicked ways. It is a package deal people. We cannot pray, and live like we want to.


So, in a sense, much of the solution was in Israel’s hands: “humble, pray, seek and turn.” Do you realise that this should be the attitude of every Christian in the world. People, it is time to take responsibility, instead of trying to get God to fix our mess, based on prayer meetings, let’s fix our mess, while calling on the Lord. It is the same as Paul who tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armour of God, praying at all times. Prayer is something we do 24/7 while doing what is right.


Let me give you an example from Scripture, and I want to make a profound statement now as we turn there: “It is more important to hear the Word of the Lord, than to pray.”

Isaiah 1:10 (ESV) 10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!”

This is a shocker that God will call His people ‘rulers of Sodom’ and ‘people of Gomorrah’. That is nothing less than God’s state of the nation address. The solution is not prayer, but to ‘hear the word of the Lord’. The solution is not prayer but to ‘give ear to the teaching of our God.’ How can I say that? Look at Isaiah 1:15 (ESV) 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen;…” So, even when we offer many prayers, or many people, even 1 million of them pray, God will not listen. So, it is more important to hear the Word of the Lord than to pray. Why will God not listen? Verse 15 goes on and says: “because your hands of full of blood”. And then God gives the solution. Isaiah 1:16-20 (ESV) 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Sounds like 2 Chronicles 7:14 doesn’t it. Humble yourselves, pray, seek my face, turn from your evil ways.

The recipe for a nation is not just Christians turning from their wicked ways, but for the whole nation, but it starts with me. I am part of the problem, and I am part of the solution. Am I doing good, am I seeking justice, am I guilty of evil deeds,  am I correcting oppression? And so, we can go on and on.

Christian, we cannot buy God, and twist the arm of God, by simply sheer numbers whether it is with people gathering or gifts to God. In Micah 6 God has a complaint against His people. They are guilty as charged. But they think they have the solution. Theirs is not ‘like’ my post and type ‘Amen’ theirs is not let’s get the crowds together. Look how they bargain with God, so that God will heal their land. Micah 6:6-8 (ESV) 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Aha, let’s get God’s attention with stuff, let’s get God’s attention with numbers. Surely, that will please the Lord and He will bless. So, we offer burnt offerings, thousands of rams, ten thousands of rivers of oil, even our first born child. What is God’s solution to the problem. Look at verse 8: “8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” We are back to Imperfect Mood humility, doing the right stuff and loving kindness.

The problem with us in the same way as Israel of old, is that we only call on God when we have no more human answers, instead of turning from our ways. Israel always did this. Let me give you one example, of what the problem really entails. We treat God as a spare wheel, as our genie that we can call out of the lantern when it suits us, but when it goes well, we ignore God. Judges 4:1-3 (ESV)1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud died. 2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3 Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.” What is the solution for when we do evil, and we are punished by God? So far, we have seen that it is to stop doing evil, turn, repent, metamorphy, 180 degrees. Every time it went well with Israel they turned away from God. God will punish them, their leaders will die, they will end up beaten in battle, taken into captivity, and then they cry to God, not because of their sins, not in repentance, but for supernatural intervention to restore their comfort zones, so that they can enjoy life on their terms.

Here is a serious question, we must answer today. Why do we want our land restored? Is it so that we can serve God, glorify God, promote God, exalt God, make God known? Or is it, so that it may go well with me, because I hate crime, I hate farm murders, I hate the present government. Is it all about me? Do we realize that God will raise leaders and take them down for a greater purpose, which does not center around me? Daniel 2:21 (ESV) 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;…”

Do we have an example of that? In Habakkuk, the prophet cries to God. Habakkuk 1:1-4 (ESV) “2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. 4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. It sounds like South Africa, doesn’t it? And in spite of Habakkuk’s long calling, God just does not seem to hear. What is God’s answer to him. If you read further, God says to Habakkuk, that He is going to do something in Habakkuk’s time, Yihaa, finally!!! But if God tells him what it is, he will not like it. Oh, gosh, but try me!! And then God tells him that he is going to raise the wicked, vicious, horrible nation, the Chaldeans over Israel and they will take them captive. Oh no, not the answer Habakkuk was waiting for. Just think if a million people pray next Saturday, and this is God’s answer to us.  Why will God do it. Look at Habakkuk 1:12 (ESV) 12 Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.”

Christian, I think you are starting to get the message. God will raise Kings, bad ones, and we must not sit by innocently and think we are not part of the problem. God will use evil and evil persons, to discipline His people or a nation. And we are not going to solve the problem by selectively quoting parts of Old Testament verses as our solution.

Are prayers going to work? Not necessarily. Why, is it because God is not able? Numbers 11:23 (ESV) “23 And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” Take note Moses, God can act!! How did God act. I don’t have time for the context now. They were crying for food, and now God was going to act. What did God do? He gave them quails from heaven, so much meat that they spent a whole day and night gathering it, but before they could eat, S&P (Standards and Poor) downgraded it (metaphorically speaking).  Before just as they started eating, the righteous anger of God came down and they were struck with a very severe plaque. People this is serious. And even today the message needs to echo out, now from Isaiah 59:1-2 (ESV) 1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

Oh, fellow Christian. We are part of the problem. We can gather and pray in our millions, but if we walk away, and live just like the day we lived before, we pray in vain, and God says that He will not listen. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Sure, let’s pray, but we might not like God’s answer to the problem. Do I hope for a restoration of the land? Sure, but what I hope for more, is that God’s people will wake up and start living like God’s people. Let’s rather Imperfect Mood, humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, repent, act justly, love mercy, do good, love kindness, serve one another, care for the orphans and the widows.

In closing:

Acts 3:19-21 (ESV) 19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

There will come a day when things will be restored. As we move towards the end of times, things might for times become better, it could be worse. The question at the end of the day is simply this: Am I trying to buy God, through prayers, even many of them and sacrifices, or am I willing to be the kind of believer that God seeks? Am I a man or woman after God’s own heart? Am I willing to repent, to submit myself to God, and to seek Him with everything I have. You might just enjoy great blessings from God’s hands in the midst of a broken world. Remember Christian, we are not of this world, we are simply sojourners, our world is ultimately heaven, from where we await our Saviour Jesus Christ who will restore all things.


Soli Deo Gloria:

Logos Community Church: 9 April 2017